Getting it done – across platforms

work safe

I’ve been trying for years to find the ‘one true way’ to capture all my todos and notes and stuff. I’ve tried a few systems that worked fairly well, but there were always some catches.

Using a Hipster PDA, I had to make sure I had it with me. I had to remember to pack it. It didn’t handle long notes, nor electronic notes.

I’ve used Things by cultured code. It’s great, because I always have my iPhone in my hand. It syncs with my Mac and my iPad. It has recurrence, long notes, and notifications. It is great. But it misses out because I can’t use it on my computer at work. Out of sight, out of mind.

I tried TaskPaper from HogBay software shortly after getting my first Mac. It was really cool, because it used a plain text file that is human readable and stupid easy to parse. I’ve even used it as an example in a DSL talk I once gave. I could use the same todo file both at work and at home. But I had to carry that file around on a thumb drive.

Until I came to a recent revelation. There is a TaskPaper for iOS that syncs to Dropbox. I use Dropbox. Taskpaper’s file format already has a Vim plugin at work. It works with task paper on my home Mac. It works on my phone and iPad. It is simple and easy to use. And flexible enough for just about anything.

Just for fun, here are some Taskpaper vim commands. And so I can find them again.

\td – Toggle Done – @done(2012-1-24)
\tx – Toggle Canceled – @cancelled(2012-1-24)
\tc – Show Context
\ta – Show All
\tp – Fold All Projects

What are the next steps?

  • It doesn’t give me reminder, so I need a helper app to find things due today and alert me. It’s easy to parse and just needs a command line app run by the OS scheduler that sends an email with today’s agenda.
  • It needs to quickly open my dropbox file and a work only file that doesn’t sync over Dropbox (google Export Controlled). This will most likely just be a shortcut on my desktop to vim and two files.
  • Vim isn’t the prettiest user interface, so I may get sucked back in to some side project WPF development.

I’ve only been doing this for, like, a day. Let’s see how it goes!

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Ryan Schade  •  Jan 24, 2012 @9:00 pm

    I’ve had pretty good luck with systems that have a web client. I’ve been using http://www.toodledo.com for around two years now, and keep coming back to it. http://www.rememberthemilk.com is another popular option, with tons of syncing flexibility. For sheer beauty and ease of use http://www.appigo.com/todoonline was great when I tried it.

    I think the kicker you’re running into is the local storage requirement for export controlled items. I wonder if you could make a local list in Outlook, then use another system (like Appigo Todo) that syncs to Outlook that will give you a combined view? I have good success with this approach in other areas (iCloud family calendars, Exchange work calendar, but the iPhone can show me both at the same time.)

    Good luck, the key to any of these is sticking with them for long periods of time and getting to the point where you truly TRUST that you’re not missing anything important.

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